Redbud’s Story

I love Redbud trees! As one of the first trees to awake from winter’s deep sleep, their bright violet pink flowers signal that the seasons are changing. They are full of the promises of warmer days ahead, abundant sunshine, and rebirth.

Redbud’s Story

I have two Redbuds in my front yard. One is young, a replacement for the old Redbud tree that was uprooted during the 2011 tornado that ripped through Joplin. The other Redbud survived the tornado, but not without injuries that resulted in twisted and cracked limbs, loss of bark and a thinning of the leaves in her glorious crown. I am relieved when this courageous tree buds each spring.

Did you know that, like the Dogwood Tree, the Redbud has a legend associated with it?

According to the ancient story, the Mediterranean Redbud was once a tall, stately tree with white flowers that appeared each spring. Judas Iscariot, the disciple who betrayed Jesus, chose a Redbud to hang himself from, ending his life. The legend goes that the Redbud felt such shame over what was done, that its white flowers blushed pink, and it became a small tree with crooked branches that could not bear, ever again, the weight of someone hanging from it.

Redbud’s Story

I came home this afternoon, after spending time with my grandson Dayan, who is in town, briefly, on spring break. We talked about my Redbud today, and how amazing her survival was during the violent storm. So I was thinking of the tree as I arrived home. In spite of a steady downpour of rain, I moved to stand beside Redbud. This tree bears its scars, without shame. She is beautiful, even with her twisted limbs.

As I patted a rough branch, I noticed the trunk and limbs were thickly covered with patches of green and gray. Under overcast skies, the damp lichen appeared to glow.

Redbud’s Story

Concerned, I did some research. Lichen is not a moss. It is a composed of two or more different organisms that coexist in a symbiotic relationship. The organisms are a fungus, green algae and a bacterium. The fungus provides support, pulling moisture and minerals from the air, and the algae and/or bacterium make the food by way of photosynthesis. Tree bark is not a food source. It is simply the lichen’s resting place. Lichen grows on many types of surfaces, including slow growing trees.

It’s not necessarily bad that Redbud has lichen covering it. However, it can be a sign that the tree is in distress. Because lichen needs adequate sunlight to survive, it appears on trees that are losing leaves, like my tree. And if she continues to lose leaves, my Redbud will not survive. It is possible that the lichen took up residence on this tree during the winter, when the tree was bare. My other Redbud does not have lichen though.

What story is Redbud telling now? I will watch and see. I circled the tree today and looked for other signs of failing health. There seems to be fewer pink buds every year, since the tornado, but it’s too soon to tell if the thinning of her crown is continuing.

My favorite picture with Redbud was taken last May, when I climbed up into her branches. That feat represented my improving health. I went from walking painfully with a cane, to being cane and pain free and able to climb. The tree supported me that day, sheltered me in her leafy arms. I love this tree. And whatever happens to Redbud, I will not forget what this tree withstood and what she represented to me. I’ll collect seeds from Redbud this year and save them for the day when she is no more. A new tree will spring up and take her place…and Redbud’s story will continue.

Redbud’s Story

Love a Tree Day

Today is Love a Tree Day. I was drawn to this unique holiday for several reasons and I couldn’t have conjured up a better day for being outside and loving on a tree than this gorgeous spring day. The sunshine was plentiful and a strong breeze from the east cooled my skin while bringing incredible swirling energy to tease me. 

Love a Tree Day
Love a Tree Day is always celebrated on May 16. The purpose is to encourage people to get outside and show love and appreciation for trees and the benefits they provide. Trees give off oxygen. They provide shade, protection, beauty, fruit, and warmth. The huge maple tree that recently came down near my backyard has even provided wonderful, natural planters and simple garden stands for containers. 

Love a Tree Day
I do love trees. I am drawn to forests and a variety of individual trees and tree motifs. Walking among trees grounds and centers me. I have journals featuring trees on the covers, tree artwork, and jewelry with trees on it. I am surprised that the tree has not yet been a symbol for me during one of my themed years. I trust it will be, at the perfect time. 

Love a Tree Day
It was easy to find a tree to love on this afternoon. My favorite tree is the Redbud. In the spring brilliant red violet blooms adorn the branches of this compact tree. The leaves are heart shaped. And the tree maintains a lovely silhouette throughout its life. 

After watering containers and planting a couple of herbs in the garden, I sat in the swing beneath the Redbud Tree in my front yard. The sweet eastern breeze whipped my hair around and kissed my neck and cheeks, making me smile. The Redbud shaded me, its leafy boughs swaying in the wind. 

Love a Tree DayLooking upward into Redbud

It was so peaceful, sitting beneath Redbud’s green canopy. This tree survived the 2011 tornado that struck my Joplin neighborhood. Tragically, its companion on the other side of the yard did not. A six year old Redbud is growing taller each season where Old Redbud once stood. The tree sheltering me sustained damage, enduring twisted branches that have split. I am grateful each spring when the clusters of “red buds” appear, signifying life. 

Love a Tree Day
The teasing breeze…with its  high energy…raised my vibrational frequency and my awareness. An idea came to me, whispered in my ear by the tree. I looked at Redbud speculatively. Oh, I couldn’t, could I? I shouldn’t. Or should I?

I became a tree climber at the age of four. Okay I actually climbed everything, and I was especially fond of trees. I am at heart a loner. When I craved solitude as a child, I scampered up a tree…the higher the better. The neighborhood kids rarely followed me up a tree. I would sit cradled by bark covered arms, hidden by leaves, and daydream, think and reflect. 

Redbud’s invitation to me this afternoon was to climb. 

It has been many, many years since I climbed a tree. I turned the invitation over in my mind. Should I? The idea appealed to me strongly. However, I have a trip coming up next week. I didn’t want to risk an injury. I am healthy and fit. But I am no longer a child. 

How sad if on this day of showing love to my favorite tree, I refused its invitation to play. I climbed. 

Love a Tree Day
I loved being in that tree! How exhilarating. How mindful I was that a year ago, I wouldn’t have attempted such a feat, couldn’t have done so, physically. My inner child whooped with joy. My middle aged self smiled…and could have stayed, sheltered by Redbud, for hours. 

I am grateful for the invitation and that I accepted it. Seated on a branch, I sent waves of love to Redbud. The scars it bears are testaments of strength, endurance, and perseverance. They are beautiful. I hugged a rough branch and offered thanks. 

My grandchildren enjoy climbing this tree. I sent them the pic above, via my son and daughter-in-law’s phones. The kids responded with an Awwww and then asked their mom Why? 

Megan’s response? ‘Cause she can! 

That’s right! I can. And I did. I was invited. That’s all it took. 

Love a Tree Day